Hotel fire case awaits evaluation of man on roof

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 
photoAngel Torres-Reyna was sentenced to 17 months for a fire in late September at the Quality Inn in Hazel Dell.

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A Vancouver man accused of setting fire to a Hazel Dell hotel won't be arraigned on charges until a judge determines he's mentally competent to stand trial.

A Clark County judge signed an order for Angel Torres-Reyna to undergo a mental health evaluation at the Clark County Jail. The evaluation will determine whether Torres-Reyna understands the charges and can assist in his own defense.

Judge Scott Collier scheduled a Nov. 9 hearing to review the evaluation.

Torres-Reyna, 41, is charged with two counts of first-degree arson and third-degree assault of a firefighter. He was scheduled for arraignment Friday, but it was postponed for the evaluation.

Staying at the Quality Inn on Highway 99 after a fire at his own apartment, Torres-Reyna is accused of setting his hotel room ablaze Sept. 29. He then climbed from his balcony onto the roof. As firefighters responded to the fire report and set up ladders to rescue him, officials said, Torres-Reyna pushed the ladders away from the building.

"It appeared Angel didn't want to be rescued," wrote sheriff's Deputy Albin Boyse in a probable cause affidavit filed with the court.

Deputies said the defendant pushed away a ladder as one firefighter was climbing it, and the firefighter had to jump when he was between 3 and 5 feet above the ground, according to court documents. Prosecutors charged Torres-Reyna with assault in connection to that incident.

During the hourslong standoff that began in the afternoon, a sheriff's negotiator who speaks Spanish tried to talk Torres-Reyna down from the roof. Just after 8 p.m., after the sun set and temperatures dipped, Torres-Reyna relented and came down a ladder perched from a truck.

When investigators questioned him, he denied everything, according to court documents. He was subsequently booked into the Clark County Jail. Prosecutors have said Torres-Reyna is also a suspect in the fire at his apartment.

Jail officials said Torres-Reyna is under an immigration hold placed by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.